According to the IBO, predicted grades are “the teacher’s prediction of the grade the candidate is expected to achieve in the subject, based on all the evidence of the candidate’s work and the teacher’s knowledge of IB standards.” They also factor in Theory of Knowledge (ToK) and the Extended Essay (EE).
IB predicted grades will vary from school to school. Make sure you check with your teachers for guidance on the process. Schools will usually base this on coursework and assessments to reflect the components of the IB grading system. As a rough guide, this would be about 20% coursework, 80% assessments for the groups 3 to 5, and 50% coursework and 50% assessments for groups 1 and 2. Some teachers may wish to take into account your trajectory over the course. For example, if you started off by achieving 4s in class tests, but worked your way up to a 6 after the first year, it may warrant them predicting you a 7 for the IB exams.
Predicted Grades for University
1. UCAS Applications
These grades are given to UCAS and used as a benchmark to compare your academic performance with other IB students. Many universities will also have their own conversion tables between IB and A levels, which vary dramatically. This could be as favourable as 36 = A*A*A (King’s) or as harsh as 42 = A*A*A (Cambridge). Once you are given a conditional offer, the score that the university would ask you to achieve is usually the same across all IB offer holders (unless you are in receipt of a scholarship, or an international student etc) and is usually lower than the score you were predicted with.
2. US Applications
US universities do not typically do conditional offers. Once students are accepted, they are usually good to go. Actual grades won’t affect you offer, unless you significantly drop (ie. you achieve several points lower than your predicted). In this case, they may rescind your offer, notify you about their concern, or urge you to take a gap year. Generally though, they will give you the benefit of the doubt, and it is uncommon to lose an offer. Still, you should try to achieve your predicted grades because universities expect the same level of achievement from you as when they accepted you.
Predicted Grades for IB
The IB will also ask your teachers for your predicted grades a few months before you sit for your examinations. This is fairly important as it is used to pick up possible instances of cheating—if your predicted grades are wildly different (e.g. predicted a 3 but score a 7 in the exams), then they give added scrutiny to your exams. It may also be used if you wish to apply for adverse circumstances. Its criteria is under Article 18 of the IBDP General Regulations.
Editor’s Note, added 23/7/20: These were the grades that partially informed May 2020 results, alongside IA grades and school history. However, in usual circumstances, these grades have no consequences so are nothing to worry about.